Third-party vendors play key role in managing the all-optical network

The optical-software market is expected to reach $7.6 billion by 2004, driven by the need for optical-networking vendors to differentiate their products from the competition, says a new report from market-research firm Communications Industry Researchers Inc. (CIR-Charlottesville, VA). According to CIR analysts, however, third-party software vendors will supply more than half of this market, while optical-networking vendors determine which network-management functionalities will set them apart from the others.

The total market for optical software in 2000 was $2.1 billion, three-quarters of which belonged to provisioning software. CIR analysts warn that today's provisioning software fails to meet service providers' true needs, including the need to provision services across multivendor and multiservice-provider networks.

Optical-networking vendors and third-party software suppliers should see increased opportunities in the areas of billing, planning, performance, and fault management. Optical-performance-management products, for example, accounted for sales of just over $200 million in 2000 but should reach as much as $1 billion by 2004. Billing services could be worth an estimated $350 million by 2004, and the optical-network planning and modeling market could reach $560 million in the same time frame. Though today's service providers typically build their own networking and planning tools, they should begin to consider outsourced solutions, as well.

CIR analysts believe that third-party vendors will play a critical role in helping networking vendors meet shorter time-to-market requirements. Optical-networking vendors should not underestimate the considerable public-network experience of third-party vendors. In addition to providing networking vendors with access to experienced software developers and reducing time-to-market, the implementation of such a strategy will also spread the cost of software development over several companies.

According to CIR, this trend could result in the market splintering into three separate segments: software designed by the equipment vendor and shipped with the original equipment or as part of an upgrade, software designed by third parties in partnership with equipment vendors and shipped by those vendors, and software designed and shipped by third parties.

The report, "Managing the All Optical Network," examines the optical-network-management requirements of 20 leading service providers and details the optical-network management solutions of 25 leading optical-networking vendors. For more information, visit the company's Website at www.cir-inc.com or call (617) 923-7611.

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